We led with the term “Party Review” in the question because that’s what CCHQ prefers to call it. They doubtless want to disentangle the review from the low standing of Andrew Feldman with party activists (as suggested by the survey elsewhere). But had we not bunged in the term “Feldman Review” for clarification, the “Don’t Know” score would surely have come in even higher than 22 per cent.
At any rate, 23 per cent of party member respondents have confidence in it, while 55 per cent do not. Doubtless a proportion of members have no confidence in anything CCHQ is doing at any time. So it was, is, and ever shall be – but there is more to this response than that.
There are some good proposals in the review: bursaries for worse-off candidates, a candidates’ outreach programme and centralised membership records (in principle, though there is a big questionmark over whether VoteSource can deliver this last objective workably). Nor can there be any sensible objection to federations, as supported previously on this site – most forcefully by our columnist Andrew Kennedy.
None the less, there is a wasp in the ointment in the form of the Multi-Constituency Association (MCA) proposal – which as drafted is a long way from being entirely voluntary, and would move power closer to the centre from the grassroots.
The survey duly picks up opposition to the MCA plan among local activists, questions about the wider proposals which they are asking – such as whether CCHQ will proactively share data with members, activsts, donors and e-mail subscribers – and the lingering but pervasive sense that many of them are regarded by the centre as “swivel-eyed loons”, to coin a phrase.
Certainly, there is nothing real in the proposals to boost ownership by the members of the Party itself. The review could solve one of these problems by dropping the MCA scheme and going for federations instead. Wider debate on wider and deeper ownership – directly elected board members, for example – won’t come under this leadership.